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What is a Softphone & How Can It Help Your Business?

This article was updated on July 13, 2021

Voice over Internet Protocol (VoIP) technology is steadily becoming the standard among business phone users. According to Sociable, the number of mobile VoIP users will likely pass 1 billion by the end of 2017. Improved usability and IoT integration are the major drivers of this growth. However, the speed of VoIP adoption has created a new challenge: confusion about terminology and technology. What's the real VoIP advantage? How can companies prepare? And what is a softphone?

What is a Softphone?

When it comes to cloud-hosted VoIP systems, you typically have access to your phone service via your IP desk phone and through software that lets you use the service from your computer desktop or mobile devices.

The "soft" in softphone means software instead of hardware. Consider the example of a typical desktop user: Installing a softphone lets her make and receive calls directly from her PC rather than using a classic office telephone. Headsets and microphones replace regular phone receivers, and softphone clients are available from most business VoIP providers.

It's also worth noting you can use a softphone on your mobile device, where the softphone is often referred to as a "mobile app."

How Does a Softphone Work?

It's simple: Business VoIP service typically includes a softphone client in the form of desktop and mobile apps which you can easily download. These apps allow you to make and receive calls and utilize the full office phone system — from your computer desktop or mobile devices — as you would on your desk phone. So, you're essentially taking your office phone number with you when you use your phone service via the softphone.

This is ideal for organizations with remote workers or staff members who travel frequently. Instead of getting "out of office" messages, customers and partners are able to connect with users directly. Also, when using a softphone, caller ID displays your business phone number, even if you're using the mobile app on your smartphone.

What is a softphone? It's the next step in VoIP communication.

What's Required on Your End?

Once your business VoIP phone service is in place, employees are able to install softphones themselves, whether it's a desktop app on their computer or a mobile app on their smartphone. Particularly with enterprise organizations, however, increased use of softphones can create substantial network traffic and competition for network bandwidth, as noted by TechTarget. This is why so many enterprises install network tools, including MPLS and SD-WAN technologies, capable of optimizing bandwidth and prioritizing traffic — and thus, maintaining quality of service for communications across the enterprise.

It's certainly wise to be choosy about your softphone VoIP provider. Look for one with a solid reputation and robust quality-of-service controls. These controls are vital to ensuring VoIP traffic gets priority and you don't randomly lose calls in the middle of conversations.

The Future of Enterprise Communication

Softphones provide more access and flexibility to busy and on-the-go workforces — and in some ways they represent the future of enterprise communication. Consider the following advantages of this technology:

  • Online Messaging: Softphones aren't hardware-based, so they include features most mobile users take for granted, including online messaging. Why call when a quick text will do?
  • Presence Indication: Is anybody there? Softphones can show whether users are available, busy, or away, so employees don't waste time calling colleagues who aren't at their desks or are otherwise occupied.
  • Call Recording: Every customer service line says the same thing: "Calls are being monitored to help improve service." With softphones and the right VoIP provider, you can actually accomplish this goal for every call, with no headaches.
  • Ease of Migration: Where do your employees want to work? How much time do they want to spend fighting with phone technology? For most companies, the answers are "everywhere" and "as little as possible." Softphones provide the best of both worlds: Employees can take their numbers with them wherever they go, on whatever devices they choose, and they don't have to worry about complicated setup or deployment.
  • UCaaS and IoT: Unified communications-as-a-service (UCaaS) and the Internet of Things (IoT) are the next steps of enterprise interaction. Softphones support these aims by providing a simple, lightweight communications platform across multiple devices and offering many of the features companies demand from UCaaS deployments. These phones are on the front lines of changing how staff members work and connect with each other every day.

What is a softphone? It's the next step in VoIP communication, replacing cumbersome hardware with easy-to-use software.

Are you ready to learn more? Talk to a Vonage Business expert today.

Vonage Staff

Written by Vonage staff

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